The Smithsonian American Art Museum is showing works by 72 U.S. Hispanic artists, hoping to showcase talent that has long been considered isolated and alien.
Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art includes 92 works by modern Latino artists from the second half of the 20th century.
E. Carmen Ramos, curator of the exhibit, said many U.S. Hispanic artists have not gained the recognition they deserve because of discrimination by mainstream museums, who considered them too foreign.
“We are at a point in history where Latino art as a field is getting a lot more attention, and we are now able to look at that broad contribution,” Ramos said.
Ramos said the exhibit would show that U.S. Hispanic artists are part of the American artistic landscape, because the Smithsonian is “viewed as the repository of our cultural patrimony, and to be able to include Latino artists within that concept is a very powerful thing”.
The exhibit, which will be open for six months, includes works such as Radiante (Radiant) by Puerto Rico-born Olga Albizu, and Man on Fire, a fiberglass sculpture by Luis Jimenez, who died in 2006. Jimenez’s steel-and-fiberglass sculpture Vaquero (1980) adorns the museum's entrance.
The exhibit includes works of abstract expressionism, activism, conceptual art and performances, but also more traditional American styles such as landscapes, portraits and scenes from daily lives.
The artists are all of varied backgrounds, such as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican.
Ramos pointed out the canvas by Frank Romero, Death of Ruben Salazar, which portrays the death of Mexican-American journalist Ruben Salazar being hit by a tear gas canister during a demonstration in support of the Chicano movement in 1970.
The exhibit will travel to Miami; Sacramento, Calif.; Salt Lake City; Little Rock, Ark. and Wilmington, Del.
• Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art will be on display at the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum through March 2. The museum is at Eighth and F Streets, NW, in Washington, D.C. 202-633-7970 or 202-633-1000; http://americanart.si.edu/. The museum is open 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; admission is free.